Terry Dunfield was well liked by Toronto FC fans. His efforts in the 2012 season were enough to see him claim second place in the Waking the Red countdown with every single voter including the Canadian midfielder in their top 10. Yet, for most of his time in Toronto he was the kind of player who left opinion about him very divided. Some fans loved him for the heart that he brought to the field and his willingness to get stuck into each and every challenge. He endeared himself to many just by being willing to do the dirty work but it was his lack of polish that left other fans wanting a whole lot more. Winning the ball was never Dunfield's issue it was his inability to do much with it once it was in his possession as many fans felt his passing was poor at best.
On Thursday morning, Dunfield's time with Toronto FC officially came to an end as he was placed on waivers by the club. The move comes just under two years after he was acquired from the Vancouver Whitecaps despite being a key figure for the club early in their inaugural MLS campaign. He was a bit slow to get going with Toronto as he wound up behind Torsten Frings and Julian De Guzman on the depth chart during that initial season.
He got his chance to shine in 2012 though with Frings spending a lot of time out injured and JDG falling out of favour with coaching staffs and he took it. Last season Dunfield even managed to impress alongside the likes of Aaron Maund as Toronto struggled to even piece together a half decent starting lineup. He would wind up playing almost every minute of the season because of that lack of depth as Dunfield proved to be a far better value than his Canadian counterpart in the midfield.
Heading into 2013 the question seemed to be who would wind up playing alongside Dunfield in the middle of the park. The club brought in Julio Cesar but that never even got going, Frings retired following the end of preseason, and suddenly the options were once again quite thin. Dunfield only managed to make four appearances before being slowed by injury though and by the time he was ready to come back his place in the lineup seemed to be gone.
The club spent big money to bring in Matias Laba so it would make sense for them to look to give him as many minutes as possible to help get him settled in and developing. The surprise has been the play of Jeremy Hall which has been good enough to merit that spot in the starting lineup ahead of Dunfield. Toronto now has a lot of different pieces to work with in the midfield and with most of them being much younger than Dunfield it seems there was no room left in the puzzle for him.
"This was a difficult decision to make but our midfielders have been playing well, and there are young players to develop and find minutes for. We felt this was the best decision for both the club and Terry moving forward," said Toronto FC Head Coach Ryan Nelsen. "On behalf of everyone at Toronto FC, we’d like to thank Terry for his contributions to the club and wish him well in his future endeavours."
The key part in all of this is probably the club considering what is best for the player. Dunfield is now 31 and is not at the stage in his career where he is going to want to just sit on the bench and wait for his chance if it is not going to come. He had already proven himself at TFC so if he was no longer in the plans giving him the chance to move on to a club where he can find playing time only seems fair.
With some of the early season loans coming to an end Toronto does have space on the roster to be able to bring in new players so it is not likely that Dunfield was waived with an eye towards new signings. His status as a domestic player makes that even less likely as the club has a greater need for international slots at this stage than they do for roster slots in general.
It will be interesting to see where Dunfield ends up now and if he will stay in MLS. Having already played for the Whitecaps and TFC it leaves him few options around the league unless someone is willing to use an international slot on him which seems unlikely.
Dunfield is 31 so chances are he will look to continue his playing career somewhere but considering he has spent his whole career working hard just to get to a stable club situation it is unlikely that he will want to uproot and head back to Europe again at his age.
We will keep an eye on how things develop with Dunfield now that his time at TFC is over and keep you up to date. For now though, one last time, here's his crowning moment as a TFC player. "It's Terry Dunfield who celebrates! The former Whitecaps player, enjoys his moment!"